Coming in from the Cold

Coming in from the Cold explores forgotten—or never-remembered—national security policy initiatives, incidents and events during the Cold War. In each episode Cold War Historian Bill Rosenau, will sit down with experts on a wide range of topics to discuss these events and how they are relevant to today’s challenges.

The views expressed here are those of the commentators and do not necessarily reflect the views of CNA or any of its sponsors.

Episode 4

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On October 20, 1981, an infamous crime shook the New York suburb of Nanuet. The botched robbery of an armored Brink's trunk resulted in the death of two police officers and a Brink's security guard. When the police first apprehended the robbers, they simply believed them to be a group of well-armed thieves. In fact, they were members of America’s first female terrorist group, the May 19th Communist Organization, the subject of Bill Rosenau’s new book, "Tonight We Bomb the U.S. Capitol."

Dawn Thomas is an Associate Director and Research Analyst on the Safety and Security team of CNA, and is an expert in large-scale incident planning and response. Thomas came to CNA after studying terrorism and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she received her Master’s degree.

Episode 3

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In 1947 Kenneth Arnold, a salesman from Boise, Idaho, was flying over Washington state in a private plane. Sometime around 3 p.m., Arnold saw a series of bright flashing lights and a group of nine flying objects moving in formation. He said the objects moved as though “skipping on water.” The media took the image and ran with it. The term “flying saucers” was born. This was the beginning of a wave of UFO sightings. During the following month, newspapers covered more than 850 UFO cases in over 90 cities across the U.S. and Canada. These reported sightings alarmed the U.S. national security establishment. Just what was going on in the skies over North America? Guests Ken Gause and Ralph Espach join Bill to discuss this wave of UFO sightings and the response of the U.S. Government.

Ken Gause is the director of the Adversary Analytics Program. He is CNA's senior foreign leadership analyst and has spent the last 20 years developing methodologies for examining leadership dynamics of hard-target, authoritarian regimes. His latest book is "North Korean House of Cards: Leadership Dynamics Under Kim Jong-un."

Ralph Espach is director of Latin American Strategic Affairs at CNA. He is an expert in U.S.-Latin America security relations, climate change and security, and security cooperation monitoring and assessment. His 2016 book, “The Dilemma of Lawlessness” from the Marine Corps University Press, examines the impact of organized crime in Guatemalan border communities.

Episode 2

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In this episode of Coming in from the Cold, Bill welcomes Rear Admiral Mike McDevitt (Ret.) and Commander Steve Wills (Ret.) to discuss the Maritime Strategy of the 1980s. McDevitt and Wills recall some of the key players surrounding the development of the Maritime Strategy. This includes CNA analysts who used open source data to hypothesize that the goal of the Soviet Navy was to protect their ballistic missile submarines. Additionally, they point to Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, who helped convince the Reagan administration that a 600-ship fleet was necessary to challenge the Soviet Navy. Finally, the group discusses the key role that perception played in the Maritime Strategy, enhancing deterrence by reinforcing in the Soviet mind the idea that they could not win a war with the United States.

Guest Bios

Rear Adm. Michael McDevitt: During his 34-year naval career, McDevitt held four at-sea commands, including command of an aircraft carrier battle group. He spent all of his operational time in the Pacific, including a two-year assignment in Sasebo, Japan. McDevitt was Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group Fellow at the Naval War College and has been the Director of the East Asia Policy Office for the Secretary of Defense. McDevitt holds an M.A. in American Diplomatic History from Georgetown University and a B.A. in U.S. History from the University of Southern California. He is also a graduate of the National War College.

Lt. Cdr. Steven Wills: In 20 years as an active duty U.S. Navy officer, Wills served on a variety of small and medium surface combatants, including an assignment as the executive officer of a mine countermeasures ship. He also held shore-based billets at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD), and at NATO Joint Forces Command (JFCNP), Naples, Italy. Wills holds a Ph.D. in military history and an M.A. in history from Ohio University, an M.A. in National Security Policy from the Naval War College, and a B.A. in history from Miami University, Ohio.

Episode 1

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In 1983, The Patriot, an Indian newspaper with longstanding Soviet connections, printed an anonymous letter from New York, claiming that AIDS had actually been developed by the U.S. government as a bioweapon.  At the time, the story had little impact, but by late 1985 the story took off. As AIDS spread around the world, people were desperate for an explanation of the terrifying new disease. By the end of the year the story had run in 12 other countries. And where did this pack of lies originate? It was a prime example of Soviet disinformation.

Guests Michael Kofman and Kasey Stricklin join our host, Bill Rosenau, to discuss Soviet disinformation tactics and how they compare to methods used by the Russian Federation today.

Guest Bios

Michael Kofman is the director of CNA’s Russia Program. His research focuses on security issues in Russia and the former Soviet Union, specializing in defense and military analysis. Michael has advised senior military and government officials on Russia, Eurasia and Pakistan and represented the Department of Defense on numerous occasions before foreign officials and dignitaries.

Kasey Stricklin is a research analyst with CNA’s Russia program. Her current research focuses on Russian naval leadership, personnel and demographics. She has also conducted research at CNA on Russian nuclear strategy and thinking. She currently writes on women in the Russian economy for BMB Russia.


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